Whether you support the war in Iraq or you don’t—and here in New Zealand we have the luxury to criticize the United States—David Horowitz’s recollection of why the US went in correlates with my own. It’s why I have always held back attacking President George W. Bush, because faced with what he had in front of him, I cannot honestly say I would not have done the same thing. As Horowitz reveals, neither would Al Gore, who supported Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ speech in 2002.
The end of this video (cut short) goes into the rationale for war surrounding UN Security Council resolution 1441, which UK PM Tony Blair managed to sell to Parliament—but which, I always felt, the US was less successful at doing.
This is one of the problems I tend to have with the US Democratic Party, for all my own leftist tendencies. Right now, for example, constituents are begging the super-delegates that they should not select who will best beat Sen. John McCain and the Republicans, but who represents their position. The fact this question has even arisen is disturbing: as representatives of the people of course one should represent the citizens. The minute you do not, you do not have a democracy: it is a quest for power among élites ignoring the citizenry, the sort of thing people were getting away from when the US was founded.
I say if one opposes the war, then there are ways to do it without resorting to revisionism. I might not agree with our PM, Helen Clark, on many of her courses of action, but at least she took a position based on the facts before her and said ‘No’ to going in to Iraq. She has never gone and revised history, and simply held ﬁrm on her principles. She has good support for it because most New Zealanders opposed the war and carried out her job (on that occasion) as a servant and representative of the people.
The consequences of resolution 1441 were always clear but the means of acting upon them were less so because of the way the UN Charter is written, and that ambiguity effectively gave some countries a chance of opting out. Our PM took it, as did the leaders of many other nations. They believed that an extra resolution was needed before war; the US, UK, Australia and others did not.
The Democratic Party and the anti-war movement probably think that this is all too tough to sell to the public, so they engage in other tactics, shaming US troops or the administration and pressuring those who have short memories to join their cause. I am not saying that what they have uncovered is all untrue—of course I accept there are dodgy dealings surrounding the war and I even accept some misconduct—but they’d earn my respect if they didn’t ﬂip-ﬂop or cover up the truth. Sen. Clinton, who voted for the war, who voted for the increase in expenditure alongside Sen. John Kerry, is one of those very high-proﬁle politicians who has changed depending on the trade winds of public opinion.
Of course a senator or a future president must be representative but she must also stand on truth. ‘I was wrong to have supported the war because …’ would have been a good start. ‘Now the American people are telling me that it is time to withdraw our troops.
‘My support was founded on the belief that resolution 1441 was inviolable. It was not, and we have carried out the due punishment needed on Saddam Hussein’s régime.’
There are millions of ways to spin it, especially ways to do it without demoralizing the young men and women serving in Iraq—and I am not even a politician.
This would also mean she’d have to go against her husband’s attacks on Kosovo, which also did not have that additional Security Council resolution but was a preemptive strike by the US. George W. Bush is not alone, just that the media give him more grief over it.
But a mea culpa is not ﬂip-ﬂopping and it is not pandering. It is being honest, something the Beltway sees very rarely.
What concerns me, however, is that the road to war is a serious matter. It should not be so easily bent because the decision should be founded on principle—and if those principles existed after resolution 1441 was broken then they exist today. Congress voted for the war, with bipartisan support. There needs to be a far bigger shift for any US representative to say no to the war now—so what is it?
A poor entry strategy, a poor exit strategy, the belief that the US’s only task was to oust Saddam Hussein, the belief that the parameters of the original declaration of war have been fulﬁlled—what?
Sen. Clinton has said that she would not have voted for the war if she knew there were no WMDs. But as Horowitz points out, the existence of WMDs was not the basis for war. Did Sen. Clinton “misspeak” again?
There is a popular notion that that was what resolution 1441 was all about and we all remember Sec. Powell’s Powerpoint presentations to the UN.
But unless Sen. Clinton has misremembered this incident as well, resolution 1441 on November 8, 2002 was about Iraq’s non-compliance with conditions laid down by the international community over disarmament, which included WMDs, but they were not the core issue.
When Iraq lied about what it did with its WMDs, which the international community conﬁrmed it had as late as 1998, the US took a hard line.
Iraq itself never offered an explanation on the discrepancy between its claims and tests by the inspectors.
That was one legal justiﬁcation for the US and the UK, and, skipping over a few issues, the war began.
I sure wish the US politicians would just tell the truth about the vote at that time because they should have a better understanding of it, having been there—rather than let people like me catch them out.
For if a leader bends based on the trade winds, then will she bend based on pressure from other sovereign nations? If Saudi Arabia put pressure to bear on the US, would Sen. Clinton cave in? If a communist nation put pressure on Sen. Obama, would he? Or, for that matter, how far will Sen. McCain bend to foreign pressure?
We cannot turn back the clock now and see how the message could have been better communicated to the US. We should know, from the Horowitz video, why the US went in and understand who is now lying to the American public: that is important. I realize there is a conservative bias in the video and the anti-UN comments play to a more right-wing audience. But the core issues Horowitz cover are valuable reminders.
The next presidential election is a chance to address some failings. The economy can be ﬁxed but what is in dire need of repair are the values to which not only Americans want moral leadership, but most of us in the western world. Get the values right, get the truth right, and the rest will follow.
At the end of the day I care not if the president is a Democrat or a Republican, and I have no say in it anyway, as long as our common values are restored and preserved, and the leader is truthful. And that the decision for staying the course or withdrawing is also founded on truth put before the American people. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:31
Jack,Post a Comment
NZ is a small country and I don't see why New Zealanders should spend their precious resources and risk the lives of its citizens on foreign wars. Were I a MP I would vote against foreign aid and sending troop off to war.
# posted by Zak Klemmer: 5/17/2008 03:13:00 PM
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